How to kill your brand and Twitter in one fell swoop!

I don’t usually write two blog posts in one day, and since I had my weekly video this morning, this is a bit out of the ordinary. But I came across an article that I had to comment on.

The article mentions a trendy furniture store in the UK called HabitatUK.  They recently started using Twitter and began by using #hastags.  The bad thing was they used hastags that were completely irrelevant to their company, brand, or products.  Hastags like #iphone, #mms, and #Apple.


Either that was a blatant attempt at spamming or their marketing folks don’t understand Twitter at all.  Either way, it was a huge red mark on their reputation and generated numerous tweets slamming HabitatUK.  Not only that, but this whole experience is being reference as a case study in how not to use Twitter.


It didn’t take long for HabitatUK to respond to the negative publicity (they must have learned from Domino’s failed attempt to ignore social media).  Unfortunately, they didn’t learn completely.  HabitatUK attempted to sweep the issue under the carpet by deleted the offending tweets and replace with generic product tweets.  HabitatUK should realize that nothing is ever deleted online – the caching ability of Twitter Search allows these spam-like tweets to be seen by all.

Some important take-aways from this experience:

  • SPAM is SPAM no matter what the medium – don’t deceive your potential customers into thinking something that is not true.
  • Be authentic by working on relationship building and move away from traditional marketing tactics.
  • Once on the web – always on the web.  Tools like Google caching, Twitter search caching, and make it virtually impossible to delete undesirable content from the web.
  • If you make a mistake online (which you likely will, will all will) do not attempt to ignore or hide – it will be worse than facing the consequences and learning from them.
  • Using a tool (in this case Twitter) for a negatively-perceived task can hurt that tool’s reputation and validity of the usefulness of the tool in mainstream business practices.

Anyone who is involved with the web, social media, or marketing really needs to read this post or others like it to learn from the unfortunate experience of HabitatUK so as not to repeat them.

What do you think of the HabitatUK experience?  Please share your thoughts.

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  • Cody

    Great post. It’s amazing how short sighted some of these marketers are. The ultimate goal is never clicks or page-views, it’s sales and brand recognition. Associating your tweets with unrelated hash tags does neither.

  • Mike McCready

    Thanks for the comments. I would even take a step further to say that associating tweets with unrelated hash tags actually hurts your brand as I’m sure it did with HabitatUK.

  • Kevin Phoenix

    Most business owners are interested in the marketing benefits of using social media but become quickly confused because they are trying to build friends, create fan pages, set up Twitter accounts, set up LinkedIn profiles, etc. Are you beginning to see the mistake here?

    The business owner (interested in marketing) has begun a social media networking initiative and NOT a social media marketing initiative… They have been confused and have set down the wrong path from the start!

    One of the biggest mistakes that Internet marketers make is believing that they can launch a social media marketing initiative inside of social media networking environments (like Facebbook, Twitter, etc.)

    Social media marketing and social media networking are two VERY different initiatives. If you try to do one inside the other you are bound for disaster. Much like mixing baking soda and vinegar together with explosive results.

    There is a clear and distinct order in which you engage social media for business benefit. If you try the networking bit before the marketing bit then you are not operating at maximum efficiency.

    Most people have it wrong. They network with people in an attempt to build their business (prospecting)… This is the most inefficient way to use social media and a great waste of time and energy. Not to mention it is hard to track results… It’s not completely measureable!